The state lottery is on its way to becoming easier and more effective.
More than 100 local managers and store clerks gathered at the Holiday Inn in Great Falls Monday to learn how to use new lottery machines as the state prepares to change over to a new, high-tech lottery system March 31.
Intralot, a Georgia-based company, is assuming control of Montana's lottery system. Small, flashy-red machines with laser printers and satellite communication capabilities will replace the old lottery machines, said Anne Charpentier, training and sales support coordinator for Intralot.
"The old machines were very temperamental," said Becky Hay, assistant manager at Mountain View Co-Op.
Hays attended the training session Monday.
"It is a cool system," she said. "It will help for time, and it looks like it will be difficult to make a mistake."
With the new system, consumers can buy lottery tickets 24-hours-a-day, closing a gap of time between 2:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. in which retailers currently cannot sell lottery tickets.
Also, come summer, consumers will have the option of purchasing a $10 scratch ticket in addition to the $1, $2 and $5 tickets already sold.
Starting last week, CBS TV stations across Montana began televising a live Powerball drawing on Wednesday and Saturday night around 9:55 p.m., Charpentier said.
Intralot signed a contract with the state to provide services for the next seven years, said Gary Abel, the lottery's marketing representative for the Great Falls area.
The company will supply the new machines, operational needs and technical support. In return, the state will pay the company 5.8 cents for every ticket sold, Charpentier said.
The team of Intralot employees has been traveling the state training lottery retailers since Feb. 19. They finish in Shelby March 17.
M&H Gas & Grocery is the number one retailer of scratch tickets in the state, Abel said. Schulte's 38th Street Store is the number one retailer of lotto tickets in the state.